THURSDAY, March 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting older adults' colon cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018 would lead to 21,000 fewer deaths from the cancer each year in the United States by 2030, a new study suggests.
Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Yet in 2013, only 58 percent of American adults aged 50 to 75 underwent recommended screening for it, the study authors said.
The study, published March 12 in the journal Cancer, said that lack of screening is responsible for a substantial percentage of colon cancer deaths.
"The barriers to increasing colorectal cancer screening in the United States are significant and numerous," Dr. Richard Wender, chair of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, said in a journal news release.
"But this study shows that investing in efforts to clear these hurdles will result in a major cancer prevention success," he added.
An initiative to get four out of five older adults screened for colon cancer by 2018 was recently launched by the cancer roundtable, a coalition of public, private and volunteer organizations.
Researchers used a computer model to estimate the potential benefits of 80 percent screening rates among adults aged 50 to 75.
That level of screening would reduce colorectal cancer incidence rates by 17 percent and death rates by 19 percent by 2020. Over the long term, greater gains were predicted, with new cases and deaths declining 22 percent and 33 percent, respectively, from 2013 through 2030.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.